Careers to support diversity in science efforts

1/16/2018 1:17:28 PM

January is National Mentoring Month, which is a good time to reflect on the importance of effective mentoring in the sciences. We all have a responsibility to support the career advancement of the scientists around us, by being a peer mentor to our colleagues or taking a proactive mentoring approach with students. It’s also important for your own professional development to learn mentoring skills. (And if you’re interested, you can check out this Lab Manager article I wrote on the value of mentorship in the scientific field for useful tips and resources from mentoring experts, or this personal blog post on how to get more mentoring experience.)  

Strong mentoring relationships especially are critical for the success of scientists from underrepresented backgrounds. Previously on the careers blog, I featured diversity-support programs and resources that help scientists from underrepresented groups pursue an academic-career track. But what about the behind-the-scenes people who run these programs? There is a definite need for compassionate people to staff these programs, from academic coaches and career advisers to program coordinators and directors. If you have a passion for advocating for diversity in the STEM fields, you might consider a career focused on academic-support services to make a lasting impact.

Here are just a few thoughts on where to start doing a job search in this field:  

First, decide the level of students across the academic spectrum you want to work with and your personal goal for doing so. For example, do you want to run outreach programs for middle- or high-school students that will pique their interest in STEM careers? Or is your passion for supporting the professional development of graduate or postgraduate researchers to prepare them for biomedical research careers?  

Second, get familiar with relevant diversity-based programs that already exist and may hire in the future. Here is a list of some of the federal agencies involved with increasing workforce and STEM diversity, along with links to their websites listing related initiatives and funded projects. This information can then be a source of keywords for job searches and/or a contact directory to further research programs in geographic locations of interest.  

And below is a weekly jobs roundup to give you a sampling of the type of positions available. These positions were found by paying attention to jobs posted via my Twitter network and searches on other academic job boards. As far as key terms, it was more difficult to narrow down searches using words such as “diversity” because many jobs have a diversity statement appended to the posting (which is a good thing), and thus required more specific searches using program names (e.g., TRIO) or filtering results to categories like “administrative support.”  

Most of the following jobs are affiliated with university-based or federally funded programs, but a number of similar positions exist outside academia across nonprofits and industry, which I will return to in future posts. While these jobs specifically focus on diversity-enrichment programs, keep in mind that working with other types of academic-support programs also provides an opportunity to advocate for and create an environment that is diverse and inclusive with respect to all students.  

Weekly Jobs Roundup  

  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science is hiring a community-engagement manager to coordinate communications efforts for the NSF INCLUDES Open Forum, as part of an overarching initiative aimed at broadening participation in the STEM fields by underrepresented groups. Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree in a science, communications or education field and three to five years of strategic-communications experience. The application deadline is Feb. 10.  
  • Several medical schools are recruiting program managers for diversity and inclusion, including the Sackler Institute at the NYU School of Medicine and the School of Medicine at Boston University. These positions will lead efforts to promote the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students in the graduate programs and create a supportive community. See the postings for details on qualifications, but both positions generally require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a few years of relevant experience. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • Brown University is hiring a part-time program coordinator to provide administrative support for its NIH-funded Initiative to Maximize Student Development program. The NIH IMSD program aims to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in graduate studies within the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Minimum qualifications include an associate’s degree and two to three years of relevant experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • Several universities have open positions to support McNair Scholars Programs, including an assistant director located at Hunter College within the City University of New York (deadline of March 5) and a program coordinator and advisor at Cornell University (no deadline given). The McNair Scholars Program is one of the TRIO programs and designed to prepare qualified undergraduates from underrepresented groups for doctoral studies in all disciplines. See the postings for details on qualifications, which differ for each position.  
  • The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is seeking an executive director of pre-college programs to oversee the administration of a number of programs that prepare students for successful transition to college, including TRIO programs (e.g., Upward Bound Math and Science). Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree and five years of experience with academic-support programs. Applications received by Feb. 16 will receive full consideration.  

Donna Kridelbaugh is the ASBMB careers blogger. Connect with her on Twitter (@science_mentor) or at her website (